My ostomy is one part of a much bigger life

My pencil skirted across the paper as I quickly tried to capture the pose of the mountain chickadee hopping across my campsite picnic table. The resulting shape barely resembled the lively little bird in front of me, but I didn’t care. I was happy for the quiet moment and the chance to draw.

A mountain chickadee kept me company during dinner and was the perfect subject for practicing quick drawings.

This uninterrupted block of drawing time was part of a two-day nature journaling course that I took a couple of weeks ago with the Rocky Mountain Nature Association. My days were spent sketching and doing journaling exercises at various locations in the park with artist Sherrie York, whom I greatly admire. I soaked up the inspiration each day and couldn’t wait to get to camp in the evening to spend more time practicing what I had learned. There, I took out my journal and watercolors and filled more pages with writings and drawings of my chickadee visitor, the boulders near my tent, and even my marshmallow-roasting campsite neighbors. As the sun dipped behind the mountains and my hands got chilly, I reluctantly put away my sketchbook. It had been far too long since I  had a chance to spend this much time drawing, and I didn’t want to stop. Art had once been such a big part of my life. Now things were so busy that I hardly had a chance to pick up my pens and paints. Even my instructor had commented that it had been a long time since she had seen something posted on my art blog.

Journaling at the Hidden Valley area of Rocky Mountain National Park.

So how does this all relate to my ostomy? I have read discussions on forums regarding the extent to which an ostomy defines one’s self. Some say that their ostomy has made them who they are. Others say that they refuse to let their ostomy define them. For me, my ostomy has absolutely been a defining force in my life. Going through the experience has made me a stronger, more appreciative person and has given me purpose.  I love showing what is possible after surgery and helping to give hope to those who are facing or recovering from ostomy surgery. It is hard to imagine my life without this new-found focus. Helping others through my Ostomy Outdoors blog is one of the most rewarding things I do.

On the other hand, I really need those moments when I am not thinking about my ostomy at all. Those times when life is about my family and friends, career, travels and other adventures. Those times when I am sketching in my journal or inking up a linoleum or wood block and rolling it through my printing press.

My printing press is starved for an inky block.

So yesterday I spent the daylight hours cleaning up my art studio. A block printing project I started before surgery sat coated in a layer of dust, and my art table had become a place to stack my boxes of wafers and pouches. Now that my space is straightened up, I am going to commit to working on art at least once a week–hopefully more.

Yikes- this mess might be okay if I was drawing a still life of ostomy supplies, but since I am not, it only interferes with my creativity.
Much better!

This may mean that there will be time periods when a week or two might go by without a post or when it may take me a few days to answer an email. Know that every message or comment means a great deal to me and that I will get back to you. My typing fingers just might be covered in ink at that given moment. To see what my artsy side is up to, you can always check out my other blog. My last post at that site is from over a year ago–but that will change soon!

Heidi:  wife, daughter, sister, niece, aunt, cousin, friend, naturalist, artist, writer, goofball, rock climber, backpacker, hiker, snowboarder, skier, fly-fisherperson, runner, nature and animal lover (especially elephants, dogs and baby donkeys), seamstress, blogger, ostomate (yes I like that word), lover of pumpkin pie, ice cream, and gummy bears, bad-but-enthusiastic whistler, fledgling guitar player and drummer, and pink-scooter rider. Each of these things is a piece of the picture puzzle that make me me. I am thankful everyday that my ostomy gave me the chance to experience all these things again. Still, I have been aware for some time since surgery that the art piece of my puzzle had gone missing, and that I was just too busy to look for it. Fortunately, thanks to an amazing art instructor, a feisty chickadee and hours of sketching time, I found it again last weekend. There it was–with me all along–just waiting to be rediscovered among my journal pages.

2 thoughts on “My ostomy is one part of a much bigger life

  1. Howdy!
    First – I am drooling a little over your lovely press!
    Are you going to turn the birdie sketches into some nice prints!
    We should talk art soon!

    And, I can so relate to a new take on life after being sick for an extended period of time. You just want your life back, and yet you are a new girl! With a new perspective. (plus, we’re older – that’s really changed my view point) We’re so happy you’re well and off enjoying life!

    🙂 jenn

  2. Hi Jen!

    So true on the new perspective. Going through an extended illness really changes the way one looks at things. Sometimes (like today!) I feel bad not getting outside on a nice day because I remember how much I wanted to do so when I was sick and stuck indoors not feeling well. Then I remind myself that I do need days to just rest (and unpack from a major trip ha ha). I can’t go non-stop all the time.

    Just getting back from the big vacation, I still haven’t worked on any art in my studio. Managed to journal one day on the trip though. Not very impressive, but this trip was more about climbing and hanging out with friends and family so that is okay. It would be fun to get together soon. Feel free to come over and play with the printing press anytime! I am still working out some of its quirks, but it works pretty well. Thanks for the idea about turning the bird sketch into a print! That would be a fun one.


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